Bullying at the University of Newcastle (Australia)

We are working to highlight and stop academic workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle, Australia. We are a group of staff and students who have been bullied for speaking out about misconduct.

Help make a difference –

*answer our survey,

*contribute to the blog, or

*contact us.

This will help us gather as much information as possible so that we can put an end to this bullying with its’ decades-long history.

“Systemic bullying, hazing and abuse generally are identified with poor, weak or toxic organizational cultures. Cultures that are toxic have stated ethical values that are espoused but not employed, and other non-ethical values which are operational, dominant, but unstated.

Such cultures thrive when good people are silent, silenced, or pushed out; when bad apples are vocal, retained, promoted, and empowered; and when the neutral majority remain silent in order to survive. Those who are most successful in such a toxic culture are those who have adapted to it, or adopted it as their own”. (McKay, Arnold, Fratzl & Thomas, 2008)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bullying of any kind

The recent tragic death of Charlotte Dawson's has again focused attention on cyber-bullying.  There is a push for tougher cyber-bullying laws in Australia.  (If you wish, you can sign a petition asking for tougher laws on cyberbullying).
Charlotte's Law - Tougher Cyber Bullying Legislation
Having suffered harassment, bullying, ostracism and bullying at the University of Newcastle, we are vehemently against any form of bullying.  195 staff and students (current or past) have described the bullying that they have suffered at the University of Newcastle.  We would certainly support any legislation to prevent bullying and harassment and punish those responsible.

45 (yes, forty-five) respondents to our survey about bullying at UoN had attempted or considered suicide.  We do know of at least one attempted suicide on the university campus.  62% of the 195 survey respondents also reported sleep problems and 56% reported suffering from depression.  It is well known that Charlotte Dawson suffered from bouts of depression.

The suicide of Charlotte Dawson is a tragedy.  Any suicide is a tragedy and an overwhelming loss.  That people are pushed that far, whether by cyber-bulllying or workplace bullying, is a crime.  This is why we continue to fight against the entrenched bullying culture and cover-up at the University of Newcastle.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Was Jung right?

“A man's hatred is always concentrated on the thing that makes him conscious of his bad qualities” (Jung)

Is this why the bullies at UoN had to ostracise, harass and destroy those of us who have refused to collude with and cover-up their misconduct?

University of Newcastle Little Known Fact #59

A senior lecturer raised concerns about plagiarism and the "misappropriation of funding". 
Based on her treatment following this, she made a "formal allegation of bullying (continual changing of teaching duties without consultation, public humiliation, ostracisation and withholding of financial resources)" to the Head of School..
Action by UoN: "Her (Head of School) response was that I should retire"

Senior lecturer placed "a Workplace Bullyin Prevention poster on my office door in the Geography building. Later that day I had a disagreement with the (Head of School) when I formally objected to the removal of my property (the poster) and its placement in a rubbish bin.
Action by UoN: "I received instruction that due to “the incident” on 30 June 05 (objecting to removal of poster) I was not to “enter the Geography [Social Sciences] building or have contact with students or staff in that area.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No surprise yet again......

"The University of Newcastle Clubs and Societies is using the legislation governing the Students Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) as the cover for a discriminatory attack on the democratic rights of students who belong to student clubs associated with political parties."

"(The SSAF) contains the stipulation that funds raised from the fee cannot be used to support political parties or the candidacy of a person for any political office."

"Now, for the first time at any university in Australia, University of Newcastle Clubs and Societies is re-interpreting the SSAF to justify proscribing political activities that have been carried out on campuses for decades." (emphasis added)

"On February 17, Rowena Grant, the Clubs and Societies Coordinator for UoN Services Limited*, the public company that provides student services at University of Newcastle campuses, sent an email to political student clubs,

"In the email, UoN Services Limited* asserts:
  • Due to the political nature of your student club, we thought it imperative to inform you of the rules for O Week 2014 on bringing any political members—be they members of federal or state parliament, or candidates for political parties—on campus.
  • If political members are found to be present at the Expo, they will be asked to leave and your student club runs the risk of losing their booking at the Expo…
  • This is due to the Student Services and Amenities Fee legislation, which specifies that SSAF funds may not be used to support a political party.
  • Our interpretation of the SSAF legislation is that bringing a political member to the Expo is supporting a political party….”
 "This is an open attempt to curtail the activities of all political clubs"

"UoN Services* is implementing a profoundly discriminatory policy. Non-political student clubs can invite whoever they like to take part in their O-Week and other activities, as is their democratic right. Religious clubs, for example, have the unquestioned right to invite non-student members of their faith to talk with students and participate in services. And no-one would dream of opposing the right of sporting clubs to invite non-student athletes to encourage students to take up their particular sport."

 It is utterly absurd to allege that the presence of members of parliament or election candidates on campus means SSAF funds are being donated to a political party.

"..the positions of UoN Services* are an affront to the intellectual and cultural traditions of universities. It used to be commonplace for student unions and clubs to organise political events where politicians debated the issues of the day. And student-organised candidate forums were once a feature of federal and state election campaigns, with representatives of political parties invited to face student audiences to outline their policies.

"Whether UoN Services is conscious of it or not, it is establishing a profoundly reactionary and anti-democratic precedent."

What is happening to  "the democratic right of students to engage, without management interference, in political activity on campus"?

This action is in line with the silencing of whistleblowers, gagging clauses on ex-staff and denying freedom of speech which many of us have already experienced at UoN.

* UoNS is now a public company limited by guarantee, a controlled entity of the University of Newcastle, and is governed by a Board of Directors which includes student representatives, University appointees and independent directors with expertise from various business sectors.

Monday, February 24, 2014

University of Newcastle Little Known Fact #921

After reporting plagiarism by academic staff, a senior lecturer reported that "one act of bullying involved the theft of ...tuberculosis from my research laboratory".  The senior lecturer "explained that I was scared the attacks would escalate to violence"
Action: "I was told I was 'overreacting'"

This senior lecturer subsequently lost her job at the University of Newcastle.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

University of Newcastle Little known fact #429

"An academic colleague accessed my* private locked office, knowing I* was not there, and stole one of my personal items. I sent repeated email requests to ......which were opened but never acknowledged".
Action by UoN:  "after seven months, no reaction from ..........."..

"I sent him an email suggesting that I ask Security to speak to the academic responsible for taking the item    .. "
Action by UoN: "Shortly thereafter, the item was returned to me by an administrative employee who said he had no knowledge of how it had been retrieved. I did not receive a single acknowledgement by .......  of my emails regarding this stolen item."

"........ (a university academic) subsequently admitted to trespassing and stealing from my office to ...... " .  
Action by UoN: "No action was taken by .....,. ......... or anyone at the university regarding this."

* This academic lost her job at UoN.

Friday, February 21, 2014

University of Newcastle and "military operations"

"Campaign" - a series of military operations intended to achieve a goal, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting:

Caroline McMillen has described UoN's  in her latest "From the VC's desk".  The University of Newcastle is on a "reputation building campaign".

"The Marketing and Public Relations team are very proud of the results received to date with the initial phases of the research and reputation building campaign and were pleased to be able to wrap up 2013 with a short video showcasing some of the UON's successes and inspiring highlights in research and innovation."

 This "campaign" continues the push for the UoN's "brand" with almost 30 staff members now in the uni's Pubic Relations and Media department.

How much of taxpayers' money is being thrown at advertising the University of Newcastle?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

University of Newcastle Little Known Fact #832

A senior lecturer was "extremely outspoken over the treatment towards two postgraduate students who had made allegations of plagiarism.  I raised my concern for these students at the discipline, Schol and Faculty levels.  My support for the students as later validated by the Ombudsman Report.

Action by UoN: "from this period I was overtly ostracized and continually publically humiliated at discipline meetings by the Head of Discipline ... and two colleagues".

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

University of Newcastle Little Known Fact #136

Senior lecturer reported that "two academics used data collected by a student via personal interviews from more than 350 people over several months about cardiovascular disease, without her knowledge".
Action by UoN: ." the two academics in question were counselled about "the need to carefully and fully acknowledge authorship in all aspects of their work".
Senior lecturer "was bullied and harassed at the university for years. She eventually suffered depression and became suicidal."
Action by UoN: Senior lecturer was informed that the Vice Chancellor,          , was going to make "an example of me".

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

University of Newcastle Little Known Fact #269

Lecturer suspected that seven students had plagiarised their assignment.
Action by UoN academic staff: "Two members of academic staff (XXXXXX )and (XXXXX) instructing me to ignore student plagiarism in assignments" ("read with your eyes half-closed", "don't concentrate so hard")

Lecturer "followed the university guidelines"
Action: "The students subsequently admitted plagiarising from the answer sheet which they had found".

Lecturer subsequently lost her job at the University.

Monday, February 17, 2014

University of Newcastle Little known fact # 547

A senior lecturer received high students' evaluations.
Action by UoN: "90 per cent of my teaching ... was deleted without consultation".

Senior lecturer complained to Head of School about removal of teaching.
Action by UoN: Senior lecturer was "removed from the co-ordination and teaching in all Human Geography courses"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Brain drain, building the Hunter, brutal honesty - Scott Holmes now safely in Sydney

On February 10th this year, Scott Holmes wrote in the Newcastle Herald that
  • "Newcastle could well be labelled the export city..... but for its brains. "
  • "there is no recognition that the real issue is how we build the Hunter. "
  • "Until we shift our focus from these distractions  (train line etc) we will not begin to address the real need for a plan at all levels to grow the economic base of the Hunter."
He also speaks of the "lifestyle advantages" of the Hunter..

According to him, Newcastle has many strengths
"but brutal honesty would have to be our defining characteristic."

How does this fit with the Scott Holmes who has used his "study leave" on a six-figure salary from  the University of Newcastle to "investigate" and "research" a new highly paid position for himself .away from the Hunter .... in Sydney? (do as I say not do as I do)

If he is "brutally honest", did he keep the University of Newcastle informed that he was "researching" a new job?

Or did the University offer the "study leave" to find a new job as this was a cheap way to get rid of him? (like the other senior managers and staff who have disappeared since Caroline McMillen became Vice-Chancellor)?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"... Professor Holmes will then return......"

Professor Scott Holmes was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Newcastle.

On March 22nd, 2013 the Newcastle Herald reported 

"Pro vice-chancellor of research and the founding chief executive of Gradschool.com Scott Holmes announced this week   he was leaving the position to take 12 months’ study leave. A Newcastle Herald columnist, Professor Holmes will then return to the faculty of business and law as a professor of public policy."

After almost a year on "study leave" Scott Holmes has a new position at the University of Western Sydney.

What happened to 

"Professor Holmes will then return to the faculty of business and law as a professor of public policy."

Did the University of Newcastle give him leave in the HOPE that he would find another position?
Did he want the leave so that he could be paid a good salary whilst looking for a new job?
What happens to the position of Professor of Public Policy?
Has he breached his contract by not returning to this position?
Does the University of Western Sydney know about this?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Scott Holmes research job and the University of Newcastle budget

So Scott Holmes has spent a year on his University of Newcastle salary (conservatively $350,000 - plus a bonus or two - see previous Herald article on salaries) doing "research" and has researched a new job for himself at the Unviersity of Western Sydney.

Meanwhile, Caroline McMillen has been telling staff about the "$12 million worth of federal funding cuts announced last year".

Sixteen admin staff members have taken "voluntary separation". The uni has "supported staff to make "positive choices" about their careers" (Newcastle Herald). 


PS There are many of us who have been harassed and victimised by the University of Newcastle and have lost our careers and health who would love to have a year's salary doing Scott-Holmes-type-research!

Friday, February 7, 2014

SCOTT HOLMES - researching a new job?

Scott Holmes was one of the senior staff from the University of Newcastle who vacated their positions in March 2013.  This exodus included three deputy vice-chancellors and four pro vice-chancellors.

Scott Holmes went on a year's "study leave".

According to the
"The Herald has reported many of the departures have coincided with an ambitious plan to have the university ranked among the top 2 per cent of the world's universities by 2015.

Vice-chancellor McMillen has rejected suggestions the changes in senior staff are related to the plan."

Scott Holmes has now reappeared as the new Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Development) at the University of Western Sydney.

Does that mean his research leave was given to him to research a new job?

He goes to the University of Western Sydney to join at least one other ex-Newcastle University academic,  Phillip O'Neill in geography.